[openstack-dev] [all] The future of the integrated release

Thierry Carrez thierry at openstack.org
Tue Aug 5 16:03:45 UTC 2014

Hi everyone,

With the incredible growth of OpenStack, our development community is
facing complex challenges. How we handle those might determine the
ultimate success or failure of OpenStack.

With this cycle we hit new limits in our processes, tools and cultural
setup. This resulted in new limiting factors on our overall velocity,
which is frustrating for developers. This resulted in the burnout of key
firefighting resources. This resulted in tension between people who try
to get specific work done and people who try to keep a handle on the big

It all boils down to an imbalance between strategic and tactical
contributions. At the beginning of this project, we had a strong inner
group of people dedicated to fixing all loose ends. Then a lot of
companies got interested in OpenStack and there was a surge in tactical,
short-term contributions. We put on a call for more resources to be
dedicated to strategic contributions like critical bugfixing,
vulnerability management, QA, infrastructure... and that call was
answered by a lot of companies that are now key members of the OpenStack
Foundation, and all was fine again. But OpenStack contributors kept on
growing, and we grew the narrowly-focused population way faster than the
cross-project population.

At the same time, we kept on adding new projects to incubation and to
the integrated release, which is great... but the new developers you get
on board with this are much more likely to be tactical than strategic
contributors. This also contributed to the imbalance. The penalty for
that imbalance is twofold: we don't have enough resources available to
solve old, known OpenStack-wide issues; but we also don't have enough
resources to identify and fix new issues.

We have several efforts under way, like calling for new strategic
contributors, driving towards in-project functional testing, making
solving rare issues a more attractive endeavor, or hiring resources
directly at the Foundation level to help address those. But there is a
topic we haven't raised yet: should we concentrate on fixing what is
currently in the integrated release rather than adding new projects ?

We seem to be unable to address some key issues in the software we
produce, and part of it is due to strategic contributors (and core
reviewers) being overwhelmed just trying to stay afloat of what's
happening. For such projects, is it time for a pause ? Is it time to
define key cycle goals and defer everything else ?

On the integrated release side, "more projects" means stretching our
limited strategic resources more. Is it time for the Technical Committee
to more aggressively define what is "in" and what is "out" ? If we go
through such a redefinition, shall we push currently-integrated projects
that fail to match that definition out of the "integrated release" inner
circle ?

The TC discussion on what the integrated release should or should not
include has always been informally going on. Some people would like to
strictly limit to end-user-facing projects. Some others suggest that
"OpenStack" should just be about integrating/exposing/scaling smart
functionality that lives in specialized external projects, rather than
trying to outsmart those by writing our own implementation. Some others
are advocates of carefully moving up the stack, and to resist from
further addressing IaaS+ services until we "complete" the pure IaaS
space in a satisfactory manner. Some others would like to build a
roadmap based on AWS services. Some others would just add anything that
fits the incubation/integration requirements.

On one side this is a long-term discussion, but on the other we also
need to make quick decisions. With 4 incubated projects, and 2 new ones
currently being proposed, there are a lot of people knocking at the door.

Thanks for reading this braindump this far. I hope this will trigger the
open discussions we need to have, as an open source project, to reach
the next level.


Thierry Carrez (ttx)

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